After having stopped the bleeding in 2021, the Emmys resumed their ratings decline with the 74th awards, plummeting more than 20% to a record-low audience, according to Nielsen data.
This year’s show averaged 5.9 million viewers, down from 7.4 million last year, and roughly a half-million short of the previous low recorded in 2020, a virtual ceremony mounted during the pre-vaccine stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
A few caveats apply, including the fact that the Emmys – which rotate among the four major broadcast networks – shifted to Monday night from Sunday, as they do whenever the show is carried by NBC because of the conflict with “Sunday Night Football.”
Emmy ratings usually take a hit during those NBC years, and the competition included a highly competitive NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks that averaged more than 10 million viewers.
Still, to underscore how steadily and steeply viewing of the award ceremonies has fallen, the Emmys averaged 10.2 million viewers the last time that NBC broadcast them in 2018.
All the major award shows took a steep hit in 2020, but most exhibited some ratings rebound. The Oscars, for example, grew by more than 50% in March after plummeting to a record low the previous year.
As has become common, the Emmys were largely awarded to streaming and premium TV programs that generally attract smaller audiences than the most popular broadcast shows, even with the decline in viewership of linear TV. That dynamic is perceived as a contributing factor in the steady ratings erosion, reducing the rooting interest of viewers whose attention is scattered among an abundance of options.
HBO’s “Succession” and “The White Lotus” nabbed two of the top prizes, with the third going to Apple TV+’s comedy “Ted Lasso” for the second consecutive year. (HBO and CNN are both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)
This year’s Emmys featured relatively little discussion of politics, which is frequently cited as turning off some viewers.
Critics were generally unimpressed with the telecast, which was hosted by longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson.